The Libero - Chelsea have moved on from Mourinho
Published: 24 Feb 2010 - 07:25:18
With Jose Mourinho set to face his former club twice in the next three weeks, now seems like as good a time as any to assess how Chelsea have coped with the loss of the self-proclaimed Special One.
In terms of silverware, it has of course been a somewhat downhill journey since the Portuguese parted company with the club he guided to the summit of English football in September 2007.
Considering Mourinho left Stamford Bridge as the most successful manager in Chelsea's history - six trophies in a three-year spell, comprising two Premier League titles, an FA Cup, two League Cups and a Community Shield - it was always going to be a tough act to follow.
And so it has proved. Chelsea have been through four managers in a bid to find a manager capable of emulating Mourinho's feats and are now on their fifth, Carlo Ancelotti.
But while the occupant of the managerial hotseat has changed identity as regularly as the object of Ashley Cole's affections, the playing staff Ancelotti inherited at the beginning of this season barely differs from the one Mourinho left behind.
Perhaps that is one of the reasons why Chelsea are still a force to be reckoned with, despite the lack of silverware and all the managerial upheaval going on around them.
Yet, of course, trophies are what really count in football, and post-Mourinho Chelsea have failed in that department - just two have been won since he left, Guus Hiddink guiding them to the 2009 FA Cup before Ancelotti claimed the Community Shield at the beginning of this season.
But Chelsea's record under Mourinho, in terms of their win ratio, was only marginally better than it has been following his departure.
And when you consider that Ancelotti is now encouraging a far more attractive brand of football than Mourinho ever did, and that his Chelsea are very much in the running for the Premier League title, the FA Cup and the Champions League, why is Mourinho's name still being linked with a return to Stamford Bridge?
The feeling is that most Chelsea fans would still jump at the chance to have Mourinho back at the Bridge. The truth is that he is no longer the right man for Chelsea. He was, undoubtedly, but times change.
Mourinho was a spiky character at Chelsea - that was always part of the charm - and since heading to Internazionale he has done nothing to tone down his ways. Indeed, if anything, his behaviour is now more antagonistic than ever - just ask the Italian Referees Association, who have just banned him for three games for making an inflammatory gesture at the weekend.
His antics have not at all been as well received in Italy as they were in England and the thinking is that he could soon be forced out of Italy, either by an increasingly unsympathetic and aggresive media or the authorities, who are rapidly losing their patience with him.
It is safe to say that Mourinho has not made many friends in Italy, a sentiment borne out by Ancelotti's pre-Champions League match comments suggeting that most of Italy will be cheering on Chelsea to beat Inter.
Like it or not, Mourinho attracts attention and controversy follows him wherever he goes. That's just the way he is, and he has proved he has no intentions to change.
Chelsea, particularly at the moment, should be thankful he is no longer around. With John Terry and Cole's private lives being played out on the front pages of every national newspaper, the last thing the club wants is an loose cannon manager, getting into trouble of his own with the football authorities.
Ancelotti offers a far more low key solution off the pitch, while not compromising anything on it, and in this case there is absolutely no need to look back in order to move forward - Chelsea's ship is well in order and set to consign the Mourinho era to the history books.
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- FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:the libero
- Libero (noun): 1. Versatile, ball-playing defender given licence to roam. Expected to break up opposition attacks while instigating counters. Role patented by German legend Franz Beckenbauer. 2. Versatile weekly football columnist, aka journalist Mike Hytner, given licence to write what he likes. Expected to file every Wednesday. Not nearly as talented as his boyhood hero Der Kaiser.
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